If you regularly snore at night it can disrupt the quality of your sleep—leading to daytime fatigue, irritability, and increased health problems. And if your snoring keeps your family or the entire neighborhood awake, don’t fret. Let’s set the stage straight with a couple of facts and tips.
1. It’s common. An estimated 45 per cent of adults snore occasionally, and one in four are chronic snorers.
2. That buzz-saw sound is caused by loose, floppy tissues in your throat, tongue and palate vibrating and slapping together. Nasal congestion, being overweight, drugs, alcohol and a deviated septum can all compress the airway, making the vibrations stronger.
3. Snoring itself won’t hurt you, but it could hurt your marriage: one British survey found that 12 per cent of respondents cited snoring as a reason for divorcing a spouse.
4. If your snoring is interrupted by bouts of total breathing obstruction, talk to your doctor. You may have sleep apnea. Sufferers are roused out of deep sleep as many as 300 times a night, experience chronic daytime drowsiness and are at risk for high blood pressure and heart problems.
5. Sleep apnea can be diagnosed by an otolaryngologist (yes, there’s actually a profession for it), who examines your mouth and throat for abnormalities, and a sleep study, requiring you to spend a night in a lab.
6. The gold-standard treatment for sleep apnea is a continuous-positive-airway-pressure (CPAP) machine. A mask fits over your nose and mouth and blows air into your throat to keep your airways open at night. Don’t really suggest that try imagining how Darth Vadar sleeps and you get an idea.
7. If you’re overweight, shedding pounds can lessen snoring. In one study, subjects who lost 10 per cent of their body weight saw their snoring drastically reduced afterwards.
8. You might also consider taking up a new hobby: the didgeridoo. A Swiss study found that consistently practising the Australian instrument strengthened the muscles in the throats of snorers and was an effective alternative to a CPAP machine.
9. Snoring can be a stubborn condition to treat. Using an endoscope—a thin camera with a light— doctors can pinpoint where the vibrations are happening, helping doctors recommend effective treatments.
10. Many drugstore contraptions promise a quick, cheap fix, but buyer beware. Mouth appliances like SnoreRX or Zyppah work by pushing your lower jaw forward, opening your airway wider.
11. Nasal strips open your nasal passages wider. But they won’t help if issues with your tongue, palate or throat are causing you to snore.
12. Taping tennis balls onto the back of your pyjama shirt could work. Your sleep position can worsen snoring. So something that forces you to lie on your side can be effective. The point is not to be on your back.
13. Extreme cases may call for surgery. For example, uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP)—a real mouthful of a procedure— rearranges throat tissues to increase the size of your airway. Sounds like a last resort.
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